I stayed up until 2am the morning we were due to leave for the Cook Islands, which seems to be a trend whenever I take more than a day off work. Our weeklong excursion to Rarotonga couldn’t have come at a worse time: work was manic, dishes were piling up, and we had just decided to change not only the date but the country of our wedding. Needless to say, relaxing wasn’t at the top of my to-do list.
Upon arrival, it was obvious that relaxation was on the agenda as I soon eased in island time…
Where to stay
Given that we were travelling as a group of six, we decided against staying at a resort. Instead we opted to stay at a beautiful house called Anchors Aweigh across from the beach, which you can find here. The photos on the listing don’t do it justice, and we were 100% impressed. We actually stayed slightly away from Muri, which is the tourist hub of Rarotonga and didn’t regret it! We rented motorcycles and scooters, which was our main way of getting around the island every day.
The one thing everyone told me about Rarotonga was how great the snorkelling is… and they’re right. The calm, clear lagoon makes for optimal snorkelling conditions and I couldn’t get over the warm water temperature. After visiting Great Barrier Reef last August, I’ve come to appreciate the fragility of coral and sea life in general. Much of the coral I’ve come across in the past few years is bleached and dead, which breaks my heart and makes me realise our environmental impact. Don’t get me wrong, we still saw some beautiful sea life during our excursions including some sea turtles, giant clams and rainbow fish of all sizes. When swimming, I urge you to pay close attention to where you’re stepping because the island is covered in coral and it’s sharp!
Speaking of sea turtles, we heard the place to see them was in one of the southern inlets to the reef not too far from where we were staying. However these passages are treacherous and can be extremely dangerous places to swim in the wrong conditions. We took extra care to ensure the tides were right and had a friend spotting in a kayak to make sure no one got into trouble.
Nick is a keen sailor and was a member of the community yacht club in Toronto, so he took us out sailing for a couple hours. He hired the boat from Ken Kingsbusy at Muri Beach Club Hotel, who also offers instruction and lessons if you’re wanting to try sailing for the first time! The boats fit five adults comfortably and I highly recommend it as a morning excursion.
Eating and drinking
I find it so fascinating that you can pack your own food in a ice box when travelling to the Cook Islands. This helped save us a lot of money because groceries are quite expensive in Rarotonga. Buying fresh fruit was surprisingly difficult given we were on a tropical island, which was one thing I struggled with quite a bit. Regardless, we found a few yummy restaurants and cafés (most are situated around Muri Beach) that I’d recommend checking out if you’re venturing to Raro:
Vaima: This was by far our favourite meal of the trip. The restaurant overlooks the beach, making it the perfect spot for a sunset meal. Given that we were a group of six, we tried almost everything on the menu. The beef wellington, seafood curry and chicken seemed to be the crowd favourites.
The Mooring Fish Café: Everyone who visits Rarotonga tells you to grab a F.O.B. (fresh off the boat) fish sandwich. Listen to them, these are some of the freshest and tastiest fish sandwiches you’ll ever taste!
LBV (Le Bon Vivant): I loved the name of this café, which means someone who enjoys luxuries like good food and drink and their ice coffees were absolutely divine. I was eyeing up their pastry selection as well…
Another great spot for iced coffee is Le Rendez-Vous, which is located near the airport. Owned by the loveliest French family, they serve traditional crêpes in a gorgeous café. If you’re after a flat white (I was the only one who was craving hot coffee in 30-degree heat), I suggest visiting Salt Café and Gallery. I was swooning over the mint exterior…
Vili’s Burger Joint: If you’re a burger fiend like me, be sure to hit up Vili’s for the most scrumptious burgers on the island. I don’t know how they do it, but the patties are INCREDIBLE!
Charlie’s Beach Bar: Well-priced drinks on the beach and tasty fries set Charlie’s apart from other local Raro bars. I loved going for a snorkel, grabbing a piña colada and then heading back out for another snorkel. What a dream!
I had my heart set on getting a massage while we were on holiday. After all, I was pretty run down from the past few weeks. After a bit of research, my friend, Bridget and I decided to get massages at Muri Beach Club Hotel. Little did we know, they’d put us in the same room (maybe they thought we were a couple?) The massage turned out to be very relaxing and just what we needed before heading back to Christchurch.
This was my most relaxing holiday yet. We did a few walks, ventured to the waterfall and visited the abandoned Sheraton resort, which was super eery. But other than that, our days were extremely low-key. I’d recommend this destination for anyone who needs to recharge their batteries. With an almost non-existent wifi connection, it’s the perfect little island to disconnect and spend quality time with your loved ones.
Have you ever been to the Pacific Islands before? Tell me about what you got up to!